Why Does My iPhone Say No SIM Card? Here’s The Real Fix!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and all’s well with the world, until you notice that “No SIM” has replaced your mobile carrier’s name in the upper left-hand corner of your iPhone’s display. You didn’t take the SIM card out of your iPhone, and now you can’t make phone calls, send or receive text messages, or use mobile data.

If you’re wondering, “Why does my iPhone say no SIM card?”, or if you have no idea what a SIM card is, you’ve come to the right place. This issue is generally pretty easy to diagnose, and I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step so you can fix the “No SIM” error for good.

What Is A SIM Card And What Does It Do?

If you’ve never heard of a SIM card, you’re not alone: Ideally, you should never have to worry about it. When you experience issues with your SIM card, having a little knowledge about what your iPhone’s SIM card does will help you to understand the process of diagnosing and fixing the “No SIM” error.

If you ever want to stump your techie friends with mobile phone trivia, SIM stands for “Subscriber Identity Module”. Your iPhone’s SIM card stores the tiny bits of data that distinguish you from all the other iPhone users over the cellular network, and contains the authorization keys that allow your iPhone to access the voice, text, and data services that you pay for on your cell phone bill. The SIM card is the part of your iPhone that stores your phone number and allows you to access the cellular network.

It’s important to note that the role of SIM cards has changed over the years, and many older phones used to use SIM cards to store the list of contacts. The iPhone is different because it stores your contacts on iCloud, your email server, or in your iPhone’s internal memory, but never on your SIM card.

The other notable evolution in SIM cards came with the introduction of 4G LTE. Before the iPhone 5, carriers like Verizon and Sprint who use CDMA technology used the iPhone itself to link a person’s phone number to the cellular data network, not a separate SIM card that would be placed inside. Nowadays, all networks use SIM cards to store their subscribers’ phone numbers.

Why Do We Need SIM Cards Anyway? What’s The Advantage?

SIM cards make it easy for you to transfer your phone number from one phone to another, and they tend to be very resilient. I’ve taken SIM cards out of many iPhones that had been fried by water damage, put the SIM card in the replacement iPhone, and activated the new iPhone without a problem.

SIM cards also make it easy for you to change carriers when you travel, provided your iPhone is “unlocked”. If you travel to Europe, for example, you can avoid exorbitant international roaming charges by briefly signing up with a local carrier (commonplace in Europe) and putting their SIM card in your iPhone. Put your original SIM card back in your iPhone when you get back to the states, and you’re good to go.

Where Is The SIM Card On My iPhone And How Can I Remove It?

iPhone Eject SIM CardAll iPhones use a tiny tray called a SIM tray to hold your SIM card securely in place. To access your SIM card, the first step is to eject the SIM tray by inserting a paper clip into the tiny hole in the SIM tray on the outside of your iPhone. Apple has a great page that shows the exact location of the SIM tray on every iPhone model, and it will be easiest for you to take a quick look on their website to find its location and then come right back here. We’re about to diagnose and fix the “No SIM” error for good.

If You Don’t Want To Use A Paperclip…

If you don’t feel comfortable sticking a paperclip inside of your iPhone, you can pick up a handy SIM card adapter kit from Amazon.com that includes a professional sim card ejector tool and an adapter that allows you to use the nano SIM card from an iPhone 5 or 6 in older model iPhones or other cell phones. If your iPhone is ever damaged, you can use this kit to pop out the SIM card and stick it in your old iPhone (or other cell phone that takes a SIM card), and be making phone calls with your phone number right away.

How Do I Fix The iPhone “No SIM” Error?

Apple has created a support page that addresses this issue, but I don’t necessarily agree with the order of their troubleshooting steps and there isn’t any explanation of the rationale behind their suggestions. If you’ve already read their article or others and you’re still experiencing the “No SIM” issue with your iPhone, I hope this article provides you with a solid explanation of the problem and the knowledge you need to fix it.

This may seem obvious, but it’s helpful to restate the problem here: Your iPhone says “No SIM” because it’s no longer detecting the SIM card that’s inserted in the SIM tray, even though it actually is there.

Like many issues on the iPhone, the “No SIM” error can be either a hardware or a software problem. On the next page, we’ll start by addressing the possible hardware issues because they’re usually easy to see with a visual inspection. If that doesn’t fix it, I’ll walk you through the software troubleshooting steps that will help you diagnose and solve your problem.

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About Author

I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.

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Raina Jaggi
3 years ago

i read your article and i did everything already suggestd byt you but still not able to fix no sim error. and apple service center is asking me to get replacement done for my 6s phone ,so is replacement only option and such issue of no sim cannot be fixed even by apple service center ?kindly help

Helen Tana
3 years ago

Thank you so much you have been very helpful

Larry King
3 years ago

Thanks for the article, I believe it would solve lots of iPhone related problems around the world. But unfortunately Im reading this 3years after the post. Initially I had the same problem of no sim so I tried reset my phone and now I cant activate it, I dont know if there is a possible solution

Sheena Landfear
3 years ago

I have zero technical expertise and I just fixed my “No SIM” in less than 5 minutes by removing my SIM card tray! Thanks!

Janice Shields
3 years ago

APPEARS A COMMON PROBLEM WITH THE NO SIM BUT NO REP ALSO IS THE PROBLEM

Janice Shields
3 years ago

THEIR ONLINE SUPPORT IS AWFUL BEEN TWO HOURS TRYING TO GET A CHAT OR SOME KIND OF HELP WITH A NEW IPHONE. SWITCHING TO A DIFFERENT PHONE AND CARRIER, TERRIBLY FRUSTRATING. AND OF OURSE SINCE MY BRAND NEW PHONE WON’T WORK I CANNOT CALL ANYONE AWFUL!!!!!

Alexandria Rose
3 years ago

Thank you so much for this! My husband had this issue and thought he’d have to upgrade but ejecting it worked!

Hellian Heavenson
3 years ago

Make sure that you inserted the sim card in correct position.
Toggle to GSM 2G network may resolved this issue might be your phone is setup to LTE that your area doesn’t support.

Colin Wood
3 years ago

The phone I had unlocked is broken, the supplier is giving me another one, can I have you unlock this phone instead of the one I paid to have unlocked?

Gary Haub
3 years ago

Took sim out, cleaned it and blew out tray, put it back in and Viola!! It worked

John Smith
3 years ago

Why has my iPhone 5 got no sim tray in the metal side of the phone

Bill Salmon
3 years ago

My phone regularly shows the no sim message. I just turn it off and restart it for the message to go away and the phone works as it should. However, this problem should not be happening at all. Technology in today’s environment wouldn’t allow or be accepted regarding this issue. The apple company pushes all clients to continually upgrade or renew equipment so that they are kept in a positive sales arena. Not all people can afford that nor should they be treated like that. Many companies are similar. I think it sucks and I also think it’s about time… Read more »

James Hoot
3 years ago

Hey guys!!! I finally fixed my iPhone sim issue!! The sim card is no longer contacting the reader so you need to bend the sim tray!

Sarah Mayfield
3 years ago

I’d suggest you put the warning about losing Wi-fi passwords at the beginning of #6. I saw the note too late… Bummer…

Bridget Irving
3 years ago

yes – waaaaaaay better than Apple’s own support page advice. Resetting my network settings did the trick.

Norda Morales
3 years ago

I reset my phone and it says no sim and i cant get back in without it working

Sasha Patton
3 years ago

I have a iPhone 5S and I did the new software update yesterday on it and it was working fine however this morning I woke up to a o service sim I have taken out the sim I have redone the settings I don’t know what else I can do what would you recommend

Maureen Regan
4 years ago

Thank you phone now up and running

Devyn Stonem
4 years ago

for me it was not the sim card but the sim card holder… i switched the sim card holder of my phone with my old iphone (same model) but used my current sim card and it worked

Marie Alessandra
4 years ago

just want to share, I have the same prob and I simply follow the instruction #6 and it did work!

Nerridah Khoory
4 years ago

Bought a new apple IPhone 7plus. Kept my old apple IPhone 5 which still had apps I wanted on the new one before closing it down completely. Sim from old phone transferred to new phone by Optus. Now my problem is. Lost the old phone at home. I’ve always used the app “find my phone” successfully. I’m stuck now because the old phone has no SIM card. How can I find it. It would have run out of battery life by now. Is this a lost cause!?

Gilmar Marcato
4 years ago

i can do, thanks. very good

Christie David
4 years ago

Thank you!

Gloria Hayter
4 years ago

Thanks, followed steps and it worked!

Tatiana Lima
4 years ago

I have both smashed the touchscreen AND dropped my phone in the toilet. This happened a year ago, and just now it’s having both issues (searching and No SIM)… I tried updating it today to no avail (error message code 50). Is there any possibility the issue is NOT physical damage??? How would I know?

Charles Henry
4 years ago

Tip number 6 did the trick! Thank you!

Gerry Clark
4 years ago

I’ve put my sim in my Nokia Lumina and its saying no sim and sim error

Kurt Lacher
4 years ago

My iPhone 6a always displays “no SIM card”. The meassage disappears before it can cause any problems, but it is still annoying.

Shaysimone Hansen
4 years ago

Thanks, your tips Worked!

Bie Kwan Marcus
4 years ago

please l inserted sim card into my iphone6s pluse but till tells me No SIM?

Almaas Qureshi
6 years ago

I inserted SIM card in my ipad,it is showing signals but no one can call or send texts nor I can do so,how to fix it

What Is A SIM Card & Why Do I Need One? Here's The Truth!
2 years ago

[…] What To Do If Your iPhone Says “No SIM” […]

Jerome
5 years ago

So I removed it and put it back in and it said searching… before and not it says No Service

mark prosser
5 years ago

i’ve repaired my old 5c and 6 of this problem by simply ejecting the sim card, and tray and using a wooden nail file insert gently, and gently move around and clean the contacts, reinsert sim card and tray.

sophia9876
5 years ago

My kid dropped his in the sink while brushing his teeth, because he cannot go a minute without checking his phone. 🙁 Anyway, this was Thursday night-he didn’t tell me until Friday afternoon! His cellular wasn’t working but everything else was. I actually tried the reboot , he had charges it the night before. Again, I didn’t know about the water damage until he fessed up after. I took the sim car and theres was a water droplet. So this is what we did and it worked: I took the sim card out, and left it out. Put about 10… Read more »

AJ
5 years ago

Wow. Thanks so much for this. I tried the Apple Support suggestions, and nothing worked to get my month-old iPhone 6se to work. I removed the SIM card and re-inserted according to the steps you provided. Bingo! Thanks again!

Emilija Markoski
5 years ago

Hello.
I have iPhone 5 with newest iOs version, and 1 week appeared No SIM card but after I restarted it was okay. I tried again today and it don’t lost, still stay No SIM card. I have tried all from above, but nothing work.
Please help.

yemi ali
5 years ago

hi there. I tried ALL but still the NO SIM error is not yet resolved. I took it in for repairs but it could not be fixed. what do I do now?

Foster Atteberry
5 years ago

Thanks David, My No Sim Card error was fixed with a simple remove then reinsert. I appreciate the extra time that you have taken to educate the rest of us.

Why Does My iPhone Keep Restarting? Here's The Fix!
5 years ago

[…] If removing the SIM card doesn’t fix the problem, don’t put your SIM card back in until you’ve completed the next step. If you’d like to learn more about your iPhone’s SIM card, check out my article called “Why Does My iPhone Say No SIM Card?”. […]

Ruf1919
5 years ago

My IPhone 5C all of a sudden stopped working with the “No Sim” up in left corner where carrier should be. The phone had a Sim Card from a carrier in the USA and when we returned to Canada and inserted the Canadian Carrier card the problem started. Both carriers are lost on a solution and after speaking with Apple they insisted a do a restore which I did with no solution. Problem is, now I can’t even access the home screen. but it shows me a screen which asks for language, region, wifi network and then asks for a… Read more »

My iPhone Says No Service. Here's The Real Fix!
5 years ago

[…] in again. If you’re not sure how to remove your SIM card, read steps 1-3 of my article about why iPhones sometimes say “No SIM.” If your iPhone still says No Service, come back to this article and move on to the next […]

Brandon McGrath
5 years ago

I have a problem with my iPhone 5c SIM card. I’ve been getting invalid SIM card errors a few times and they would be fixed when I rebooted my phone but now it didn’t work so I got worried and tried taking the SIM card out to see if I could fix any problems with your methods but they didn’t work and when I reinserted the SIM card and rebooted it, it said no sim so am I completely screwed now!? Please help!

Michael E Hartigan
5 years ago

Feel I should mention what just happened to me. I followed all of the instructions listed above, down to the last step, of restoring my iPhone. So, I backed up my phone and went ahead with the Restore. After it was finished, I still had the no SIM card problem. But now, my iPhone is wiped, and iTunes can’t connect to it to restore the backup without a SIM card. So, you might want to add a note that this happens, as a warning to people who are about to try step #9. I just went from having a less… Read more »

Stephie Haron
6 years ago

I’m sorry David. P, your tips and techniques unfortunately did not resolve my IPhone issue. Please come up with realistic solutions that actually work. Thank you.

Ray High
6 years ago

I have the 5s. I use my bluetooth headset some when I’m driving, so I flip the switch above the volumn controls on side of phone to vibrate only. Keeps phone from ringing outloud. When I get home and take off the head phone I’ll switch it back to ring. It took 2 or 3 times before I realized this was causing the No Sim Card Error. I turn the switch off and then back on again, and my Verizon signal bars return. I’m probably not turning the switch back on good. Works for me. Hope this helps someone else.

Efren Flowers
6 years ago

Worked! Thanks

Ivy Yeo
6 years ago

My Mobile phone is telling me There is no Sim card, yet there is, and now I can’t text my Hubby who is away for a day or two. Please can anyone help. My supplier is EE.
.

susaneisaacs
6 years ago

My iPhone 4 is so old it doesn’t have a SIM Card. I did a restore to it to fix music sync issues. The restore process messed up the phone, now it says “no SIM card.” Took it to Apple. They absolved themselves of responsibility. Any ideas? Thanks!

K Cielo D'Arcangelo
6 years ago
Reply to  susaneisaacs

My iPhone 4 from Verizon did the very same thing earlier this evening when I connected to iTunes to do a back-up. Based on the time of your memo and your comment which is hauntingly similar to my own problem, it seems too curious to be a mere coincidence. I called Apple Care because my Mac is covered and I considered this an iTunes software issue. My phone was restored through iTunes but to no avail. Apple Care was closing so I’ll call tomorrow to let them know the restore failed. My error message reads: “SIM Required”. Since my phone… Read more »

susaneisaacs
6 years ago

NO WAY! Same phone, same carrier. Clearly this is an issue with the software restore feature doing something to destroy the phone. Let Applecare know and direct them to this message. I’m furious.

K Cielo D'Arcangelo
6 years ago
Reply to  susaneisaacs

If you que Google about the problem you will find very recent articles about the issue written by Apple technicians. I spoke with Apple Care again and received excellent customer service and the problem has now been corrected. It required the assistance of the Apple Care engineering team to manually override what is a software issue as it was communicated to me. I prefer using landlines in my business and don’t use my iPhone as much as so many people do and certainly not enough to warrant buying a new model at the announcement of the launch of a new… Read more »

nishanthnair
6 years ago

Thanks.. looks like reset network settings did the trick for me!